BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (WPIX)—A Long Island grandmother is launching a multimillion-dollar malpractice suit against Brookhaven Memorial hospital after she claims doctors wrongly diagnosed her with both stomach and lung cancer and only had two months to live.
The ordeal began on Thanksgiving of 2008 when 85-year-old Ramona Jimenez -- who suffers from gastritis -- developed a severe stomach ache. Her family took her to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital where doctors performed a CT scan on her.
When the results came back -- the family was devastated. Doctors told them the scan showed black spots all over Jimenez's abdomen. They diagnosed the elderly woman with stomach cancer that was rapidly spreading to her lungs. In addition, they said she was dying and would likely only have two months left to live.
According to Jacqueline Siben, the family's attorney, doctors and nurses refused to perform additional tests and treatments upon the family's multiple requests. The medical personnel refused because they allegedly deemed Jimenez too old and claimed it would be cruel to put her through it.
In addition, the family claims the hospital threatened to cut off the in-home hospice care Jimenez was receiving, after she was released from the hospital shortly after the stunning diagnosis.
As she rested at home, Jimenez claims nurses gave her increasingly high doses of morphine. As a result, she got addicted and is still struggling to be weaned off the powerful painkiller. In the midst of her struggles, her husband left her because he apparently couldn't deal with seeing his wife going through so much pain.
"To just see her laying in her bed doing nothing like a vegetable ... giving her medications to extend time for her. It's sad," daughter Martha Micallef told PIX 11 News.
Jimenez's granddaughter, who is a nurse, became skeptical about her diagnosis when she didn't see any change in her grandmother after two months had past. The family then decided to take her to Stony Brook University Hospital -- where after doctors performed several tests -- found no signs of any cancer.
Jimenez believes doctors at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital may have read another person's CT scan mistaking it for hers. So far, officials at the hospital have not commented on the case.
The woman's family is outraged claiming she unwillingly lost two years of her life and is now battling drug addiction. Jimenez is currently recovering at a family's home in North Carolina and is slowly getting better.
"We went through a lot. We suffered a lot. We went to the windmill to get news that wasn't true," said Micallef.
However a spokesman for Brookhaven Memorial Hospital is denying any wrongdoing.
"Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center is exploring all of its rights in response to what it considers an outrageous and unfair attack on the Medical Center's hard-working doctors and staff," reads a statement released Tuesday night by the hospital. "The Medical Center fully intends to pursue complaints before the Grievance Committee of the Suffolk County Bar Association, as well as a suit in court against the Siben firm, for defamation, libel and slander. The Medical Center considers the Siben firm's public comments a seriously harmful and reckless publicity stunt.
Neither the family nor the Siben firm have requested or reviewed the Medical Center's records. There have been no complaints filed with the Medical Center by the family or the patient as a result of her care.
While confidentiality laws prevent the Medical Center from discussing care provided to our patients, it's important to recognize that the Medical Center provides quality medical care to its patients including the opportunity for extensive tests and procedures. In fact, the Medical Center provides expert care to thousands of patients annually. Similarly, our hospice program is widely respected and praised for its compassionate end-of-life care to community members.
We are confident that a review of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center's actions will confirm that the care it provided was correct and appropriate."